The dollars in your wallet sure don’t buy what they used to buy. Pull up to your friendly gas pump and experience sticker shock. Think about what a postage stamp costs; your daily newspaper; a bottle of pop. Thank you, Sunoco, Exxon, Citgo, the government and manufacturers.
Pull up a chair too, and sit down and watch the American League and National League playoffs, and realize money might not buy you happiness, success, or a chance to get to the World Series. Those dollars don’t go as far as they used to. Thank you, greedy owners, stupid general managers and powerful agents.
The final week of the regular season was packed with excitement. At one point heading to the final days of the season, five clubs in each league still had a shot at either finishing first in their division, or fighting for a wildcard playoff spot. It has been fun watching the tension packed postseason games so far.
It’s not been fun, however, if you are a baseball exec at Dodgers Stadium, Angels Stadium, Fenway Park, or other assorted stops on the baseball road maps. Their teams failed to make postseason and they are now like you and me, watching the playoff games on TV.
The excitement of the arrival of the new Dodgers’ ownership was further heightened by a spending spree at the trading deadline. From the penny-pinching Frank McCourt era, his mailing address being Bankruptcy Court, to the arrival of Stan Kasten and the 2B-dollar purchase of the team, Chavez Ravine has become a destination point again, for fans and expectations. It has been impressive.
The Dodgers, who had a $95 million payroll this season, took on a whopping $260 million in contracts in a span of 14 days, with the blockbuster deals with the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins. Los Angeles tried to trade its way into the pennant race, but injuries sidetracked them down the stretch.
But everyone knows — the arrival of big bats, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez, mean big things going forward into 2013. The return to health of Crawford, Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley next season, likely means the Blue will be playing in October next year.
Stunning was the wretched season the Angels went through. Owner Arte Moreno has never been afraid to invest in free agency. A rotten (8-15) start, a slow start by pricey slugger Albert Pujols and a destructive bullpen doomed the Halos. A spirited run in late season nearly put them into postseason before they ran out of games on the schedule. But, signing an aging Pujols to a 10 year, $240 million deal surprised people. They spent $154 million in salaries, but still have needs and have front office issues that won’t go away
Around baseball, the aging Yankees had a $199.9 million payroll. Injuries made their season a struggle. Realizing they are stuck with five more years at nearly $150 million for Alex Rodriguez, who is breaking down, creates a monster migraine. Mark Teixeira is making $23 million a year and is a shell of the player they hoped he would be.
The Phillies had a tremendous run, but age and injury wrecked their season, and they are on the hook for nearly $175 million in payroll going into next season, with a ton of 30-year-old plus players in next spring’s opening day lineup.
Texas failed to survive the wildcard playoffs, despite a hefty $120 million payroll, and now they must deal with soon to be free agent Josh Hamilton, the MVP-Triple Crown candidate. He could demand more than $20 million per season on the open market, but the risk-reward issues are out there for everyone to see — a past history of drug abuse and sometimes irrational behavior.
Boston tried to do as the Yankees did — buy a pennant. They finally won a World Series, but bad clubhouse chemistry, a crumbling front office, then a fire sale and eroded all the success they had. That was some $173M million investment in bad attitudes at Fenway Park, and people became so tired of the Red Sox Nation, that everyone cheered when the team burned to the ground. They had become the 617-area code version of the Evil Empire in New York.
It has been a fascinating season for the small market Oakland A’s, referred to as a grunge band bunch of guys. Five rookie pitchers got them to postseason, even if only a few fans showed up at home games, as they won the American League West. They did it with a microscopic $55 million budget.
Baltimore and Washington, with mid-level payrolls, came out of years of gloom to bloom as franchises, playing in October. The Orioles patched together a fun roster. The Nationals have drafted well for years and the kids have arrived.
Of course you’d rather have a chance to be great, than be a Pirates fan, with 20-straight losing seasons, or a Cubs fan (100 losses) or root for the Astros (107 losses). But in baseball, it has be to buyer beware with free agents and payrolls.
Winning is great. Having star names is great, too. But sometimes the biggest names don’t guarantee great success. The AL-NL Championship series will be fun to watch. Maybe this time next year we might have a 405-Freeway Series with the Dodgers and Angels in the Fall Classic. But maybe Tampa Bay or small budget San Diego will become a surprise team.
But, like the price of gas that always seems to go up, you eventually wind up running on empty. Payrolls go up and there are bunch of teams with the needle on “E” on the side of the road, as other teams play on.
Balls and strikes get influenced by dollar$ and cent$. Sometimes it works; many times it doesn’t. Just ask the Rangers-Bosox, Phillies, Dodgers Blue and the Red October Angels. Your money just doesn’t go as far as it used to, not when buying gasoline or meat. And surely not when buying big money free agents.
In baseball, the only guarantee is you have to pay them. There is no guarantee you will succeed with them.